Whether you are a New York Knicks fan, a basketball fan, a sports fan in general, or not a sports fan at all, I trust you have at least heard the name “Jeremy Lin” over the past couple of weeks.
Jeremy Lin grew up in the United States and led his Palo Alto High School basketball team to the California Division II High School hoops title. There are over 300 Division 1 colleges in the United States and do you know how many basketball scholarships he was offered? Zero. Zilch. Nada. He ended up playing ball at Harvard where he averaged 16.4 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.4 steals his senior season. A star in the Ivy League, he entered the NBA Draft and do you know how many phone calls he got? Zero. Zilch. Nada. He did enter the NBA as an undrafted free agent and prior to his joining the New York Knicks earlier this year he was cut two times in 15 days. Imagine getting hired, getting fired, being lucky enough to find another job quickly, and then being fired again…all within 15 days! The Knicks eventually picked him up, and due to injuries of two of their star players, Lin left the confines of the last seat at the end of the bench with the obscure view and finally got his chance. He came off the bench and scored 25 points, leading his team to victory. Two nights later he got his first career start and tallied 28 points. And then, in his first start on the road he scored a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists. There is so much more to this story, but it’s a great story and he has been the Knicks star player ever since he had the opportunity to get in that first game.
This is a story about opportunity that we can all learn from. Maybe you’ve been hired and fired or laid off by a couple of civil engineering firms; maybe you are being pigeonholed into a task or technical skill set that forces you to maintain a low profile; maybe you are in a corporate culture that is not your cup-of-tea; or maybe there are too many layers or too many other more experienced co-workers insulating you from advancement…maybe you are sitting at the end of the bench at your company. You know your potential, you have great ideas as to how to achieve great success, you know how to make other people successful, you are just waiting in the wings to seize that opportunity. Your opportunity will come – you just have to find it. And if that opportunity does not come to you – then you need to go to IT. Maybe your supervisor is promoted or moves on to another company – use that opportunity for a little self promotion and request that opportunity to take his or her place. Maybe you are contacted by a recruiter for an opportunity that may better position yourself for that next step in your career taking you one step closer to your full potential – return that call! My point is – don’t ever lose site of your goals – keep working hard and doing good work and treating people right; but don’t work so hard with your nose so close to the grindstone that you never look up to see that opportunity. Hone your craft technically; find a mentor; engage in networking events; give presentations. This way, when a path is cleared for you, no matter how tight it may be, you are able to take advantage of it and do great things, just like Jeremy Lin has.
And this is how you can become a Civil “Lin”gineer. Hmmm, I wonder if I can trademark that?
Now, when this does happen, don’t expect to amass over half-a-million Twitter followers in less than two weeks like Jeremy Lin (chances are you are probably not even on twitter). And don’t expect your first set of plans you stamped to sell on eBay for $21 G’s (as did Jeremy Lin’s rookie basketball card). And don’t expect to make the cover of ENR two weeks in row (Jeremy’s face recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated for two consecutive weeks)…though one day, that just may happen!